The First Frontier

  • by Scott Weidensaul
  • Narrated by Paul Boehmer
  • 16 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Custer or Lewis and Clark, before the first Conestoga wagons rumbled across the Plains, it was the East that marked the frontier - the boundary between complex Native cultures and the first colonizing Europeans.Here is the older, wilder, darker history of a time when the land between the Atlantic and the Appalachians was contested ground - when radically different societies adopted and adapted the ways of the other, while struggling for control of what all considered to be their land.
The First Frontier traces two and a half centuries of history through poignant, mostly unheralded personal stories - like that of a Harvard-educated Indian caught up in seventeenth-century civil warfare, a mixed-blood interpreter trying to straddle his white and Native heritage, and a Puritan woman wielding a scalping knife whose bloody deeds still resonate uneasily today. It is the first book in years to paint a sweeping picture of the Eastern frontier, combining vivid storytelling with the latest research to bring to life modern America’s tumultuous, uncertain beginnings.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Worth a listen

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, but it was not as enjoyable as I had anticipated (I was really looking forward to it). However, it was well worth it.


What other book might you compare The First Frontier to and why?

Fred Anderson's The War that Made America, which covers some of the same period and events. In fact, if I hadn't listened to Anderson's book first, I would have a even higher opinion of this one, but Anderson often is more to the point and presents things in a clearer way. For instance, it was quite clear in Anderson's book why Washington became an aide to Gen. Braddock, but it wasn't in Weidensaul's account.


What aspect of Paul Boehmer’s performance would you have changed?

It was OK, but I found myself falling asleep more often than usual. His reading is somewhat flat, but not bad.


If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Immediately! Couldn't wait.


Any additional comments?

While I hate PC as much as anybody, I do not agree with another review's criticism. This book did not seem to me to present the Indians in a particularly PC way; to me, the presentation seemed fair and objective. The Indians were no saints, they could be treacherous and cruel, and the book does not hide this. What it does do is make us understand the complexity of the Indians' world when the Europeans started to wreak havoc. We tend not be be insufficiently aware of how many they were before the Europeans came, and how complex the relationships were between different tribes. The great interest of this book is to give us a better sense of how things must have looked to Indians, and of the tragic misunderstandings between Indians and Europeans in addition to the Europeans' rapacity and prejudices. And even apart from inadvertently killing off nine-tenth of the native population with the germs they brought, on the whole the Europeans certainly behaved worse than those they considered inferior, often to their own detriment.

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- Acteon

Bad narration kills it

I found the writing of The First Frontier passing fair but the narration is so bad I had to put it down after a an hour or so. The narration is stilted, with an artificial, monotonous rhythm that strikes an unpleasant nerve. No matter what is going on in the story Boehmer seems to be trying his utmost to add the same mid-level emotional resonance that seldom fits the mood. At every comma he slows such that he comes off as afraid he's going to lose the listener.

The content is interesting enough that if I was reading the physical book I would probably continue on, but not so interesting that I'm going to seek it out after returning the audible version as soon as I finish this review. There wasn't a promise of insight beyond what's available in other books and I could take or leave the prose.
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- R. Strickland

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-03-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios